PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Natural Selection, Mechanism, and the Statistical Interpretation

This paper explores the relation between the debate about the mechanistic status of natural selection and the debate about the causal-vs.-statistical interpretation of the theory of natural selection. I argue that the former debate can be assessed only relative to a model and that there are two fundamentally different and independent kinds of models of natural selection, “Modern-Synthesis” and “Darwinian” models. Then I argue that even if MS-models are causal they are not mechanistic. However, a sub-set of D-models are, namely, those that represent what a trait was selected-for. These D-models, I conclude, are compatible with a statistical interpretation of MS-models.

Author Information:

Fermin Fulda    
Roman Institute for Philosophy
University of Western Ontario


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